Instructions for Making A London Shade

Published: 27th October 2008
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(From the Making Roman Shades series)

One of my favorite styles of roman shades is the london shade. The london shade has softness that offers a traditional feel, but can be incorporated into any room and style.

London shades are often seen as london shade valances, but you can also make them operational for privacy.

My favorite part about london shades is the inverted box pleats. These box pleats add extra fabric to the swag with the shade is raised. Plus you can have a lot of designer fun with those box pleats. You can add contrasting fabric within the box pleat... so that you get a peak of an accent color. And when you add piping along the edges of the box pleat, you have a professional workroom quality london shade.

Ok, now you're came to this article looking for instructions for making a london shade... and that's what I'm going to give you.

I'm going to show you how to make a simple, unline london shade. I'd love to show you all the detailed tricks of contrasting fabric, piping, lining and interlining... but those details are too lengthy to be included here. However, once you read through these instructions, I bet you'll be able to start making your london shades today!

So let's get started making a london shade!

Supplies you'll need to make a london shade:

Your face fabric, roman shade rings, roman shade lift cord, screw eyes, a cord lock, a dust board and some angle brackets.

Don't forget matching thread and a new needle for your sewing machine.

Making A London Shade

Step 1: Measure to get the finished width and length of your london shade. You'll want to write down how wide you want your london shade and how long you want your london shade. If you are planning on installing your london shade within the window frame, subtract 1/2" from the width to allow the roman shade to raise and lower without rubbing.

Sewing TIP: If you are going to install your london shade on the outside of your window frame, be sure to include the returns as part of the finished width. The return is the distance from the front of your dust board to the wall. A london shade will wrap along the sides of the dust board.

Step 2: Cut your fabric width to the finished width PLUS 4" PLUS 24" for the box pleats.

Step 3: Cut your fabric length to the finished length PLUS 9" PLUS 18" for 3 permanent pleats at the bottom of the london shade.

Sewing TIP: If you're planning on sewing a london shade valance... then pretend the finished length is the length of your window. Then when you finally pull up the bottom to the valance length, you will have that signature fullness that london shades are famous for.

Step 4: Lay your fabric wrong side up. Fold the side edges in 1" and press. Then fold them in again and press. Sew the side seams with a straight stitch or with a blind hem stitch.

Making the Box Pleats

Step 5: Measure in from the side edges the distance you want the box pleats to be PLUS 6" PLUS Return. So, if you want your box pleats to be 8" in from the side edges, you would measure from the side edge 8" PLUS 6" PLUS a return if any. You'll want to measure along the top edge and along the bottom edge... and perhaps once along the length of the panel.

Sewing TIP: A rule of thumb is the box pleats are 1/4 of the finished width in. This is just a guide... you need to decide how far in you want the box pleats to be. Keep in mind that you want at least 15" between the box pleats for a good swag.

Step 6: Measure out from the marks you made in the previous step 6" on each side and mark.

Step 7: Fold your panel so that the marks in Step 6 meet the mark in Step 5. This creates the inverted box pleat. Pin the pleat in place. You will probably fuss a bit to have a pleat that runs the length of the fabric panel.

Step 8: Measure from side edge to side edge to make sure that you have the finished width. If not, adjust your box pleats until you do.

Step 9: Press your panel well

Step 10: Fold the bottom edge up 3" and press. Fold it up again 3" and press. Sew the bottom hem with a straight stitch or with a blind hem stitch.

You're almost done making your london shade!

Step 11: Using the center of the box pleats as a guide, measure up from the bottom edge 3" and mark with a pin. Then measure up every 6" and mark with a pin. You should now have pins running up the centers of both box pleats.

Just a couple more steps!

Step 12: Sew a shade ring to your london shade at each pin

Sewing TIP: Fold your shade right sides together at each row of pins. Slide the folded edge under your sewing machine's presser foot. Slide a shade ring under the presser foot so that it's edge touches your shade. Set your machine to a zig-zag stitch and lower the feed teeth. Remove the pin and sew the shade ring to your roman shade with the zig-zag stitch. Your needle will catch the folded edge of your london shade and then swing over the edge of your shade ring. Stitch about 5 or 6 times. Easy!

Step 9: Staple the top edge of your london shade to a dust board. Make sure that the distance from the top side of the board to the bottom edge of your london shade is the finished length plus 18".

Step 10: Install a screw eye for each column of rings.

Step 11: Install a cord lock on one side of your dust board.

Step 12: Tie the bottom 3 rings of each box pleat together with lift cord and thread them up through the columns of shade rings. Thread each lift cord through its corresponding screw eye and then over to the cord lock.

Install your london shade.

Step 13: Install your dust board to your window or wall.

Step 14: Finish off your lift cords with a decorative cord drop and cord cleat.

See... Making london shades can be quick and easy!

There are several styles of london shades and roman shades to make. This is just one simple version. You can line your london shades... interline them. You can add a contrast fabric within the box pleats. If you do, adding piping along the edges of the box pleats really looks great! And don't forget the bottom edge. Try glueing a tassle fringe along the bottom edge.

How To Make Roman Shades

Learn how to make roman shades with step by step video tutorials and illustrated instructions by visiting Making Roman Shades is easier than you may think... and Jenny T. will show you all the steps from design through installation.

Jenny T. is the author and publisher of the leading roman shades how-to resource on the web -- How To Make Roman Shades. This web site also have detailed illustrated instructions for making london shades! So, if you need diagrams to go with these instructions you'll want to check out How To Make Roman Shades.

She has several publications on the web that help sewers of all levels learn how to sew window treatments. Roman shades, pleated drapes, grommet curtains and window valances.

Video Source: Youtube

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